Perhaps you'll take that office flirtation a little further. Maybe you'll put the moves on that sexy bartender you've had your eye on, the one who could care less about diapers or mortgage payments, but just wants to have fun. Or, more likely, you'll join the millions of others who are turning to the Internet, where you'll find a growing number of on-line services like Adult FriendFinder, Ashley Madison Agency, and Philanderers.com, all sites designed for married people who are looking to have an extramarital tryst.
"It's the new infidelity," says Dan Morgenstern, founder and director of the Ashley Madison Agency, a site for people "seeking love and romance from other romance-seekers outside their primary relationship." Since Morgenstern launched Ashley Madison in early 2002, nearly 300,000 people have signed up -- including many Charlotteans -- indicating there's no shortage of people willing to cheat on their spouse, especially given the anonymity of the Internet.
Marriage is still one of our most powerful, cherished and long-lasting institutions, of course, but there's no denying that people's attitudes toward it are changing -- just look at the ever-climbing rate of extramarital affairs. While estimates vary on the number of people who are cheating on their significant other, noted expert Peggy Vaughan, a psychological consultant and author of The Monogamy Myth, says that at least 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an affair.
So, is this yet another example of our culture's continuing moral decline, or, as some believe, is it simply men and women doing what comes naturally?
All Kinds of Freaks
He's bald, overweight and slovenly. He would never warrant so much as a second glance from most women, and he knows it.
"I am not a well built specimen, nor am I well endowed," says "Ycat," his on-line moniker. "But I have two ears that know how to listen, two shoulders that know how to support, and two arms that know how to hold and comfort." He also has a wife and two kids, but that hasn't stopped him from actively pursuing other women for years via websites like Ashley Madison and Adult FriendFinder. "I enjoy intimacy three or four times a week, whereas my wife only desires it once a month or less," says Ycat, in explaining what prompted him to join these sites.
Similar to regular dating sites, on-line resources like Ashley Madison ask members to create a profile, including information like interests, physical appearance, and preferences. Members can also explore other members' profiles, send e-mails to those who strike their fancy, and exchange more personal information, including pictures.
Ycat, who is in his early 40s and lives just south of Charlotte, says that after establishing an on-line rapport with a woman, they typically meet at a public place, like a grocery store parking lot or library. If things go well, they schedule a second date, where they usually take things to the next level.
"Some try to hide their physical appearance, such as their weight, but I always ask them to be honest," Ycat explains. "I'm no Adonis, but once they get to know me online, that usually gets them beyond my looks. Besides, in these types of relationships looks don't really matter. It's about taking care of each other's needs."
Ycat says he's had sexual encounters with nearly 40 women he's met on-line, ranging in age from early 20s to late 40s. They've included a woman who was nine months pregnant, one who wanted to have sex while her husband watched (while bound and tied up), and one who wanted to be led around on a dog collar. "There's all kind of freaks out there, and I'm always looking," he says with an unsettling boastfulness. "The biggest thing with these women -- even though they're married -- is that they're lonely. They say they want honesty, but they don't. They want the fantasy. They don't want to hear about how my day at work went. They've got a husband for that."